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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I got knocked offline for a couple of days earlier this week. What's interesting (more or less), is that I thought I would miss it more, but I really didn't. The only time I was actually annoyed was when I wanted to look up stuff on Wikipedia or some other place online, and couldn't. That's the best thing about the Internet, honestly, is that I don't have to wonder about things that pop into my head. I can just go look them up and get all the information I want. It sure as hell beats hoping the thing you want to research is in your encyclopedia.
So, now I'm back, and this is all I have to offer you. Pretty sad.
I did also play Minesweeper for the first time in years. Sweet.
Labels: tha Innernets
posted at 9:06 PM
Screw you haters, The Simpsons is still the best show on television.
posted at 10:19 PM
That's Gotta Hurt
I have sort of a mixed opinion about former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. On the one hand he seems like a tool, and the kind of arrogant prick that our president adores (when they agree with him). On the other hand, there is something that appeals to me in sending a guy to the UN that hates the UN. He might be more inclined to try and get things done so he can get the hell out of there.
I know a lot of people that hate John Bolton's politics, but when he was to be renominated a few months back, there was a lot of teeth-gnashing and wailing that Bolton must go! And I was fine with that, but I did ask one simple question:
Is he doing a good job as our ambassador to the UN?
Not "Is he doing what you would want him to do," but in terms of doing the day-to-day duties, is he doing badly? And honestly, no one could really tell me anything negative about his job performance. He's gone now, but I found it interesting all the same.
That being said, he's free to travel around and go on talk shows, as he did with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last week. It was pretty good, but there really isn't enough time for Stewart to kneecap Bolton as he did with those smug wonks on Crossfire.
But apparently in the UK. a guy named Tony Benn does have that kind of time, and with audience question time thrown in, Bolton got filleted.
This, by the way, is one of the reasons I've not been allowed on the BBC in over seven decades.
posted at 11:20 PM
The heavens have opened up, and after many weeks of clear skies, there is rain falling. It's cold outside, as it tends to be at this hour, but I have opened doors and windows so that I may hear it. If I was smarter, I would run off to bed and try to sleep as it falls, but I prefer to sit and listen for a little while yet.
Thunderstorms are maybe the best thing about nature. I know that lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes and syphilis combined, but I do love a raging storm.
Once, I was driving across the Arizona desert in July, and a huge storm blew up. Growing up in the Midwest, violent weather doesn't phase me, but this was kind of eye-opening. Most places, obviously, there are things that obscure your view: Trees, houses, buildings, whatever. Out there in the desert, there was ground, and there was sky. Nothing else. When the lightning started up, you could see it extend for miles across open sky with nothing to block its vastness. I had never been able to enjoy it that way before, and I was grateful to be in a car, and not stuck outside.
Still, I like the thunder best. The encompassing aspect of rumbling thunder is one of the best things in nature. In the society we live in, everything is designed to make us feel big and in control, and I like the reminder that there are enormous processes at work that will do as they will, and there's not one damned thing that can be done to stop them.
Most people seem to prefer sunny weather, but the inclement stuff always seems to boost me. It makes things grow, it cleans my car, and it gives me an excuse to be a slug.
Give me one reason* to move to Seattle, and I'm outta here.
*and $100,000 to get started
posted at 2:29 AM
Oh, he's guilty
Alberto Gonzales, that is.
I know this, because the president has offered his unqualified support.
Earlier today, in regard to the firings of the US Attorneys, Bush said that "there is no indication that anybody did anything improper," and that the Democrats were more interested in "scoring political points" than finding out what actually happened.
I feel confident that the Democrats can manage both.
The fun part is when George says things like "It will be regrettable if they choose to head down the partisan road of issuing subpoenas and demanding show trials when I have agreed to make key White House officials and documents available."
Oversight. That is one of Congress' most important functions. What the president has offered in what he calls a "compromise," is to allow the people in his administration behind the scandal, Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, to testify before the Senate, behind closed doors, and only if they are not under oath.
Well, nothing fishy about that, yeah?
Everything is above board, everyone is doing their jobs legally, and yet no one can talk about it with cameras rolling, or after first swearing to tell the truth. I would like a similar deal next time I have to testify or fill out a legal document.
Bush's stance is not surprising, of course. He is not one to think, or look at the facts. He believes. He believes that Alberto Gonzales is doing a great job, he believes that we are winning in Iraq, he believes that God has endorsed his policies, he believes that the poor deserve what they get, he believes that education is for losers, he believes that might makes right, he believes that the Bible is literal truth, and he believes that the US Constitution is inconvenient. George believes a lot of things that are unsupported in fact and reality, and likely believes that neither of his daughters has HPV.
These things happen.
So, I don't know what's going to happen next, because if Rumsfeld can be thrown under the bus, then anything is possible. But I hope the Congress has the balls to ferret out the truth on this matter, and all of the other scandals this administration has authored. And feel free to take your time. If the president wants to drag this out into an election year, his party can pay the price. His insistence on delaying victory in Iraq will likely do him in, but the myriad of criminal activity will be the icing on the cake.
Remember the way the Democrats treated Jimmy Carter after he left office? Imagine the antipathy multiplied by ten, and that's George W. Bush's legacy with the GOP.
posted at 4:40 PM
You can't spell "Gonzales..."
The president's consigliere is about to be forced out for his office's many ethical violations. It's too bad a sharp guy like him forgot that he was the Attorney General of the United States, and not still George W. Bush's personal lawyer.
I hope the next person in the job remembers who the hell he or she works for.
You, god dammit.
posted at 3:58 PM
I have not commented on the most recent of the myriad Bush administration scandals, that being the firing of federal prosecutors for not adequately going after Democrats in a naked politicization of justice.
But today, I read that Republican Senator John Sununu of New Hampshire has called for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. The other Senator from that state, Judd Gregg, was asked about Sununu's statement, and I was so irritated by the stupidity of his response, that I wrote him an actual letter. A copy appears below:
Today, your colleague from New Hampshire, John Sununu, called on Alberto Gonzales to resign in the wake of the US Attorneys firings scandal. When asked for your thoughts, you said this:
"I don't believe the attorney general should resign over this. I don't believe his ability to pursue the terrorist threat has been compromised to the extent that he should resign."
You may be surprised to learn that the Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer for our nation. In addition to fighting terrorists, his purview includes rape and murder, drugs, harassment in the workplace, and a myriad of other criminal activity. In other words, well over 99% of his job does not have anything to do with terrorism. In light of this fact, can you please explain to me how your response today had anything to do with the issue at hand?
I eagerly await your reply.
I am not holding my breath.
posted at 4:30 PM
Stupid, stupid, stupid
Earlier, I am sitting next to She-who -completes-me, and I grab her right hand as an affectionate gesture. The whole interlocking fingers thing, and I notice the fingers are very smooth and not jagged with jewelry.
"Wow!" I say stupidly. "No rings."
She looks at me and says nothing. And yet, quite a lot.
"I sure as hell walked into that one, didn't I?"
This will not be a cheap fix.
posted at 10:16 PM
Why We Fight
I've been kind of taking a break from the news over the past couple of weeks, between traveling and just being burnt out, I've decided not to obsess. Taking a quick look around to catch up revealed the usual suspects:
We're still at war, the weather is killing people down south, buses are plunging, the stock market is volatile, fat chicks still can't get a break, and in a story that initially seemed shocking, one of our country's best-known hypocrite segregationists apparently owned the family of one of our nation's best-known civil rights leaders.
The fact that none of these things really makes much of a blip on my radar is pretty sad, and I'll take full responsibility for allowing myself to devolve into this state.
But over the past couple of weeks, reports have been circulating about some of the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which, if not the biggest care facility for injured veterans, is at the very least, the best known. This is a place, we are told, where our brave men and women receive the finest treatment available as thanks for their service and sacrifice. Since we went to war four years ago, the hospital, much like the Veterans Administration as a whole, has been somewhat overwhelmed. That's just natural, but it's ok, because our warrior president, who loves to stand in front of our brave troops while he makes speeches, has said time and time again that we will do whatever is necessary to provide for our heroes.
As long is doesn't mean increased taxes or tangible sacrifice. Duh.
But it turns out that our good intentions, well-wishes, and magnetic, yellow "Support Our Troops" ribbons haven't been sufficient on their own to help ease the rehabilitation of injured soldiers and marines.
Because the system is swamped while also being underfunded, investigations have uncovered widespread problems in regard to the quality of care troops receive, systemic issues with unsanitary conditions and a host of other things that quite obviously should not be happening, particularly while President Troop Hugger is still The Decider. If these men and women cannot be rehabilitated, and integrated back into American society as a whole (whenever possible), then it is truly a national shame on all of us.
As the stories began to hit the media at large this week, interviews with amputees, the brain-injured, and other wounded hit the television like a runaway freight train.
Well, not with the ferocity of the Anna Nicole Smith story, but still, pretty loud.
Over the past couple of days, fortunately, the military and the administration have made great strides to address the real problem, and I expect you won't be hearing too much more about these awful incidents.
Oh? Has a pledge been made to fund at whatever level necessary these vital veteran's programs?
(This is where being jaded really pays off.)
No, in accordance with the president's ethos of never actually doing anything that would require effort or sacrifice, a simpler solution has been devised:
Order the troops to stop speaking to reporters.
See how easy that was? Problem solved! Oh sure, some troops will likely still contact the media surreptitiously, via email, or through Watergate-style undercover leaking, perhaps choosing to use the nom de guerre "Deep Tracheotomy." But those people are probably chronic whiners.
A review: American joins the service for any number of reasons, could be patriotism, employment, travel, or because it has been repeated over and over that the people who are trying to kill us (Saudi Arabians, mainly) hate our freedoms.
I'll be honest, I've never really bought into that. I mean, a lot of people in the world reflexively hate America in much the same way that basketball fans hate Duke. Everyone hates #1. We have, by far, the largest and most expensive military on the planet, but there's more.
American culture is pervasive. I think a lot of the resentment really stems from the fact that when it comes to entertainment, this country produces it on a scale and quality that no other nation can compete with. It may not all be great or significant, but even the worst of it is better than what some countries have. And it certainly isn't as if we have some sort of monopoly on creativity, I'm strictly talking about scale. American popular culture is popular culture for most of the world. I recall the French attempting to institute limits on how much foreign entertainment would be allowed into their country, which is their right. Of course, in the internet age, any attempts to limit freedom of information will fail, and in the larger scheme of things, that is absolutely wonderful. It's a marketplace of ideas, and censorship will always lose.
Except here at home.
US troops were sent to Iraq, and told that they must defeat those who would take away our freedoms, which would include, ostensibly, freedom of speech. It is important for Iraqis to be able to express displeasure about their leaders. That's what democracy is all about, and that's what keeps it viable. Otherwise, citizens who complain could find themselves, for example, thrown out of their homes, or fired from their jobs. They might even have medical care denied to them, despite the horrible injuries they have sustained on the battlefield in defense of freedom.
As the national debate heats up about health care, perhaps we can manage to agree that while on the road to affordable, quality health care for all Americans, we can perhaps first provide it to those injured in the defense of our freedoms. And maybe if there's time, freeloading, asshole kids.
posted at 11:58 AM
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